Fri, 5 April 2019
Why has Sir Gregory Hale kept to his room for two weeks in such a paroxysm of frantic paranoia? Sax Rohmer, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.
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Today we begin our series of The Hand of Fu-Manchu, by Sax Rohmer. It is the third in the Fu-Manchu series, and you can pick up the first two titles at our website for under $8 each.
Now, before we jump in, I really need to say a word about the material. The Fu-Manchu series is basically built around the racist idea of a Yellow Peril. This term is used to express Western fears about East Asian Immigration, and builds on the fear to concoct an idea that someday the East Asians may get too much political and economic power – too much for the existing people in power, that is.
Sax Rohmer was quite a craftsman, using many devices from Sherlock Holmes and other popular detective stories, and integrating them with the contemporary British fear of the immigrants from the East. Seriously, by the time you’re a few minutes in to any Fu-Manchu story, you’re steeped in some serious Chinaphobia.
That being said, you may wonder why I chose to do this title? The reason is that I really think this needs to be looked at and talked about. When we brush racist history under the rug, or try to ignore it, it doesn’t make it go away. It empowers it. It enables it. And we really shouldn’t pretend that it didn’t happen. In coupling his page-turning popular writing with literally vilifying an entire race of people, The Fu-Manchu series brought Chinaphobia into the mainstream. We shouldn’t be okay with that.
And so, as you run into some objectionable stuff today, talk about it with your friends. Point out the problems with your kids. Let’s see where we were, and clean this out of our culture through honest and informed discussion.
If you’d like to learn more, check out Dr. Fu-Manchu and the Rise of Chinaphobia, by British educationalist and writer, Sir Christopher Frayling.
And now, The Hand of Fu-Manchu, part 1 of 7, by Sax Rohmer.